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Calar Alto Observatory

The Calar Alto Observatory (Centro Astronómico Hispano en Andalucía or "Spanish Astronomical Centre in Andalusia") is an astronomical observatory located in Almería province in Spain on Calar Alto, a 2,168-meter-high (7,113 ft) mountain in the Sierra de Los Filabres range.[2]

Calar Alto Observatory
Calar alto.JPG
Enclosure of the 2.2-meter telescope at Calar Alto Observatory
Alternative namesSpanish Astronomical Centre in Andalusia Edit this at Wikidata
OrganizationInstitute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC)
Council of Andalusia
Observatory code 493 Edit this on Wikidata
LocationAlmería, Spain
Coordinates37°13′25″N 2°32′46″W / 37.22361°N 2.54611°W / 37.22361; -2.54611Coordinates: 37°13′25″N 2°32′46″W / 37.22361°N 2.54611°W / 37.22361; -2.54611
Altitude2,168 m (7,113 ft)
Unnamed3.5 m reflector
37°13′15″N 2°32′49″W / 37.220791°N 2.5468465°W / 37.220791; -2.5468465
Unnamed2.2 m reflector
37°13′23″N 2°32′46″W / 37.2231427°N 2.5461943°W / 37.2231427; -2.5461943
Unnamed1.5 m reflector
37°13′30″N 2°32′55″W / 37.2249718°N 2.5484985°W / 37.2249718; -2.5484985
Unnamed1.23 m reflector
37°13′23″N 2°32′52″W / 37.223074°N 2.5476775°W / 37.223074; -2.5476775
Unnamed0.8 m Schmidt reflector
37°13′26″N 2°32′54″W / 37.223927°N 2.5483678°W / 37.223927; -2.5483678
Calar Alto Observatory is located in Spain
Calar Alto Observatory
Location of Calar Alto Observatory
Commons page Related media on Wikimedia Commons
Minor planets discovered: 7 [1]
see § List of discovered minor planets

Until 2018, Calar Alto was owned and operated jointly by the German Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, and the Spanish Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC) in Granada. It was named Centro Astronómico Hispano-Alemán / Deutsch-Spanisches Astronomisches Zentrum, "German–Spanish Astronomical Centre". In 2019, the Council of Andalusia takes over the German partner, sharing the observatory with the Spanish National Research Council through its head institute, IAA-CSIC.

Calar Alto telescopes are used for a broad range of observations, from objects in the Solar System[2] to cosmology (the Alhambra and CALIFA surveys), including the search for exoplanets (the CARMENES survey).

The 3.5-meter telescope is the largest telescope in mainland Europe, though there are three larger telescopes on the Spanish island of La Palma at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory. The minor planet 189202 Calar Alto, discovered by Felix Hormuth at Starkenburg Observatory in 2003, was named in honor of the observatory site.[2]


The site was proposed in 1970, and was officially opened in July 1975 with the commissioning of its 1.23-meter (48 in) telescope. The site developed thanks to German and Spanish cooperation in astronomy. Eventually, four more telescopes were commissioned. The Schmidt telescope was moved to Calar Alto in 1976 from the Hamburg Observatory at Bergedorf, where it had been completed in 1954. The observatory hosted the finish of Stage 11 of the 2017 Vuelta a España cycling race (the stage was won by Miguel Ángel López), having previously hosted stage finishes in 2004 (won by eventual race champion Roberto Heras) and 2006 (won by Igor Antón).


There are 4 main telescopes on site: a 3.5-meter (138-inch), 2.2 m (87 in), and a 1.23 m (48 in) telescope, and an 80 cm (31 in) Schmidt reflector. The 3.5-meter is the largest telescope on European soil with an Equatorial mount. There is also a 1.52 m (60 in) telescope that is owned and operated by the Spanish National Observatory and a robotic telescope operated by the Spanish Astrobiology Center (CAB).


The CALIFA Survey (Calar Alto Legacy Integral Field Area Survey) is an astronomical project to map 600 galaxies with imaging spectroscopy (integral field spectroscopy (IFS)).[3]

List of discovered minor planetsEdit

Close to a hundred minor planets have been discovered at Calar Alto by astronomers Luboš Kohoutek, Kurt Birkle, Ulrich Hopp, Johann Baur, Krisztián Sárneczky, Gyula Szabó, Felix Hormuth and Hermann Boehnhardt. In addition, the Minor Planet Center, directly credits "Calar Alto" with the discovery of the following minor planets:[1]

(63429) 2001 MH5 21 June 2001 list
(94223) 2001 BU53 17 January 2001 list
(99258) 2001 MF5 21 June 2001 list
124143 Joséluiscorral 21 June 2001 list
213269 Angelbarbero 20 June 2001 list
(247170) 2001 BY10 16 January 2001 list
(250482) 2004 DF79 18 February 2004 list


  • Elsässer, H. (1975). "Kurze Berichte über die wissenschaftlichen Vorträge": 53. Bibcode:1975MitAG..36...53E. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Lemke, D.; Frey, A.; Hefele, H.; Schulte in den Bauemen, J. (1978). "Observational conditions for infrared photometry on Calar Alto": 98–103. Bibcode:1978MitAG..43...98L. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Elsässer, H. (1981). "Calar Alto - bisherige Erfahrungen, künftige Entwicklung". Bibcode:1981MitAG..54...15E. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Fried, J. (1987). "Das 3.5-m Teleskop auf dem Calar Alto": 27. Bibcode:1987MitAG..68...27F. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Birkle, K.; Hopp, U. (1987). "The Calar Alto 3.5 m Telescope. Operation and Test Results". Bibcode:1987MitAG..68...12B. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Hopp, U.; Graser, U. (1990). "Optical quality of the Calar Alto 3.5 m telescope". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 235: 543–548. Bibcode:1990A&A...235..543H.
  • Bizenberger, Peter; McCaughrean, Mark J.; Birk, Christoph Birk; Thompson, Dave; Storz, Clemens (1998). "Omega Prime: the wide-field near-infrared camerea for the 3.5-m telescope of the Calar Alto observatory". Bibcode:1998SPIE.3354..825B. doi:10.1117/12.317219. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Lenzen, Rainer; Bizenberger, Peter; Salm, Norbert; Storz, Clemens (1998). Bely, Pierre Y; Breckinridge, James B (eds.). "Omega Cass: a new multimode NIR-imager/spectrometer for the Calar Alto Observatory". Space Telescopes and Instruments V. 3356: 493. Bibcode:1998SPIE.3354..493L. doi:10.1117/12.317275. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Bailer-Jones, Coryn A. L.; Bizenberger, Peter; Storz, Clemens (2000). "Achieving a wide field near infrared camera for the Calar Alto 3.5m telescope". Proc. SPIE. arXiv:astro-ph/0003072. Bibcode:2000SPIE.4008.1305B. doi:10.1117/23.395447.
  • Hippler, Stefan; Kapser, Markus E.; Feldt, Markus; Weiss, Robert (2000). "ALFA: three years of experience in adaptive optics with a laser guide star". Proc. SPIE. 4007. Bibcode:2000SPIE.4007...41H. doi:10.1117/23.390397.
  • Wolf, C.; Meisenheimer, K.; Röser, H. -J.; Beckwith, S. V. W.; Chaffee, F. H.; Fried, J.; Hippelein, H.; Huang, J. -S.; Kümmel, M.; Von Kuhlmann, B.; Maier, C.; Phleps, S.; Rix, H. -W.; Thommes, E.; Thompson, D. (2001). "Multi-color classification in the calar alto deep imaging survey". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 365 (3): 681. arXiv:astro-ph/0010604. Bibcode:2001A&A...365..681W. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20000064.
  • Graser, U.; Hopp, U. (2001). "Pointing models for the Calar Alto 2.2 M and 3.5 M telescopes". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 251 (2): 737–742. Bibcode:1991A&A...251..737G.
  • Baumeister, Harald; Bizenberger, Peter; Bayler-Jones, Coryn A. L.; Kovacz, Zoltan; Röser, Hermann-Josef (2003). "Cryogenic engineering for OMEGA2000: design and performance". Proc. SPIE. 4841. Bibcode:2003SPIE.4841..343B. doi:10.1117/23.461003.
  • Ziad, A.; Gredel, R.; Aceituno, J.; Borgnino, J.; Hoyo, F.; Irbah, A.; Martin, F.; Thiele, U.; Pedraz, S. (2005). "A site-testing campaign at the Calar Alto Observatory with GSM and DIMM instruments". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 362 (2): 455. Bibcode:2005MNRAS.362..455Z. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2005.09299.x.
  • Sanchez, S. F.; Aceituno, J.; Thiele, U.; Perez-Ramirez, D.; Alves, J. (2007). "The night sky at the Calar Alto Observatory". Publ. Astron. Soc. Pac. 119 (860): 1186. arXiv:0709.0813. Bibcode:2007PASP..119.1186S. doi:10.1086/522378. JSTOR 10.1086/522378.
  • Baumeister, H.; Alter, M.; Cárdenas Vázquez, M. C. N.; Fernandez, M.; Fried, J.; Helmling, J.; Huber, A.; Ibáñez Mengual, J. M.; Rodríguez Gómez, J. F.; Laun, W.; Lenzen, R.; Mall, U.; Naranjo, V.; Ramos, J. R.; Rohloff, R. R.; García Segura, A.; Storz, C.; Ubierna, M.; Wagner, K. (2008). "PANIC: the new panoramic NIR camera for Calar Alto". In McLean, Ian S; Casali, Mark M (eds.). Ground-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy II. 7014. p. 70142R. arXiv:0807.4064. doi:10.1117/12.788796.
  • Sanchez, S. F.; Thiele, U.; Aceituno, J.; Cristobal, D.; Perea, J.; Alves, J. (2008). "The night sky at the Calar Alto Observatory II: The sky at the near-infrared". Publ. Astron. Soc. Pac. 120 (873): 1244. arXiv:0809.4988. Bibcode:2008PASP..120.1244S. doi:10.1086/593981. JSTOR 10.1086/593981.
  • Quirrenbach; Amado; Mandel; Caballero; Ribas; Reiners; Mundt; Abril; Afonso (2009). "CARMENES: Calar Alto high-Resolution search for M dwarfs with Exo-earths with a Near-infrared Echelle Spectrograph". arXiv:0912.0561 [astro-ph.SR].
  • Husemann, B.; jahnke, K.; Sanchez, S. F.; Berrado-Navscues, D. (2012). "CALIFA, the Calar Alto Legacy Integral Field Area survey: II. First public data release". arXiv:1210.8150.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Minor Planet Discoverers (by number)". Minor Planet Center. 12 January 2017. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "189202 Calar Alto (2003 SM15)". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  3. ^ S. F. Sánchez; et al. (February 2012). "CALIFA, the Calar Alto Legacy Integral Field Area survey. I. Survey presentation" (PDF). Astronomy & Astrophysics. 538 (id.A8): 31. arXiv:1111.0962. Bibcode:2012A&A...538A...8S. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201117353.

External linksEdit